In general, Mac’s do tend to run better than PC’s and require less maintenance. If however you are finding that your Mac is starting to slow down then you can use our easy to follow Mac maintenance guide to speed up your slow Mac.
1. Free Up Hard Drive Space On Your Mac
OS X “prefers” to run on a Mac with a hard drive that has at least 10% of its total capacity still available. The unused drive space gives your Mac the “wiggle room” that it needs in order to perform important background tasks such as boot cache optimization, on the fly disk defragmentation, and disk caching. Therefore, your Mac could still be running slow even though it hasn’t totally run out of hard drive space. To free up hard drive space on your Mac you can take the following actions;
- Empty the trash! I think that we’ve all been guilty from time to time, of holding onto our trash for a little longer than we should.
- Remove applications and personal files that you no longer need or use.
- Remove unnecessary language files. There’s a great tool called Monolingual that will allow you to remove unused language files from your Mac. This could help to free up over 300 MB’s of hard drive space!
- Remove unused binaries from your Mac. Several years ago Apple switched from using Power PC processors to Intel processors. To ensure compatibility during the cutover, Apple allowed for the development of Universal Binaries which include code for both the Power PC processor and Intel processors in a single application. If you are using an Intel Mac, you quite simply don’t need the Power PC binaries to even exist on your Mac. Monolingual can also be used to remove unneeded binaries, but Xslimmer probably does it best. You could recover gigabytes of hard drive space depending upon which applications are installed on your Mac.
- Find and delete large, unused application generated files. I once found 9 GB’s of newsgroup databases that Unison had downloaded to my Mac’s hard drive by using OmniDiskSweeper. This handy utility scours your Mac’s hard drive and displays all of its largest files. You would be shocked to learn the amount of (useless) data that some of your Mac’s applications can generate.
- Move your iPhoto and iTunes libraries to a second hard drive. This will absolutely free up hard drive space, just make sure that you are using a fast external hard drive to store these libraries your you could take a performance hit when running these applications. You can use iPhoto Buddy and iTunes Library Manager to help you get this done.
2. Delete Your Mac’s Cache Files
Cache files can become corrupted and can thus cause your Mac to slow down. You can use Onyx to delete the cache files on your Mac. Just click on the cleaning icon from within Onyx and then click on execute. Repeat this step for the User, Internet, etc… tabs.
3. Repair Your Mac’s Disk Permissions
Incorrect disk permissions can also lead to your Mac performing poorly. Open Disk Utility and click on the Repair Disk Permissions button to correct this problem.
4. Remove Unnecessary Startup Items On Your Mac
This isn’t nearly as big an issue on a Mac as it is on a PC running Windows, but sometimes you can speed up your Mac by removing unnecessary startup items. Simply open System Preferences, click on Login Items, select the application that you wish to remove and then click on the minus button.
5. Update Your Older Mac Applications
If you’re running a newer Intel Mac you’ll want to be sure that you’re not using Power PC applications as they just don’t perform as well as Intel applications do. One example that comes to mind is Office 2004 vs. Office 2008. Although Office 2004 ran pretty well on Intel Macs, Office 2008 runs much better.
6. Upgrade Your Mac’s RAM
Adding more RAM to your Mac will undoubtedly provide you with the much needed performance gains that you’re looking for. You’ll also be pleasantly surprised to hear that upgrading the memory on your Mac is in most cases a task that is user serviceable. Crucial makes a Memory Advisor tool that will help you find the right memory for your Mac.
Unfounded Mac Performance Claims
Here’s a list of performance tweaks that other sites claim will work to speedup your Mac. I haven’t been able to verify these claims so it’s “buyer beware…”
- Too many desktop icons – I haven’t seen any instances where my Mac has slowed down due to the fact that my desktop is cluttered.
- Too many dashboard widgets – I couldn’t find a way to to overload my Mac by using too many dashboard widgets.
- Unused System Preferences Panes – Again, I just couldn’t “squeeze” anymore speed out of my Mac by removing any of these.
- Lack of a disk defragment utility in OS X – Apple’s OS X doesn’t need to be defragmented using a 3rd party utility because it defragments files on the fly. The only instance where you might want to defrag OS X is if the disk was near fully capacity for a very long amount of time. If so, you might checkout iDefrag.